Save Lives in the Heat

With scorching weather continuing to sweep across Australia, please be mindful of animals in the extreme heat. Apart from more obvious burn injuries, heat stress can have serious and even fatal consequences for animals.

Save Lives in the Heat

With scorching weather continuing to sweep across Australia, please be mindful of animals in the extreme heat. Apart from more obvious burn injuries, heat stress can have serious and even fatal consequences for animals.

image above: David Mariuz/Reuters

Please download our printable Save Lives In The Heat leaflet to distribute or place on public notice boards OR organise copies of this free leaflet to be sent to you here.

BREAKING: If you would like to donate to help the animals impacted by the bushfires ravaging Australia, please see The Animal Victims of Australia’s Fires for our recommendations.


With bushfires devastating the land and weather becoming more extreme, we are starting to see many more animals come into care with heat stress. When we see consecutive hot days this is when we need to be most proactive and vigilant in protecting and helping all animals.

Things you can do

Place bowls of water in your garden and public parks in locations that are secure and protected from predators such as cats or dogs. Make sure you don’t use metal or steel bowls as they heat up.

Put sticks or rocks in the bowl to help insects and animals climb out of water bowls or bird baths.

Hang a water dispenser from a tree or place a bowl in a hanging basket.

Use the garden hose to spray water into trees and shrubs.

On hot days put some fruit out like watermelon or frozen grapes for birds as finding food in the hot weather can exhaust small animals.

Place artificial shade around your garden and possum / bird boxes in your trees.

At all times keep your dogs on leads and well away from areas where they could prey on wildlife when at the park.

Check for wildlife before letting them loose in your backyard. Making sure they are supervised during this time.

Do not let your cat free roam outside during the day or night, especially over spring and summer. For their own protection and the protection of our wildlife we strongly advocate for building cat enclosures if you want to let your cat roam outdoors. Check out Happy Cat Enclosures for more information and ideas.

Signs of Heat Stress in Wildlife

In severe cases animals may present as unconscious, seizuring, display loss of balance and confusion.

Possums / Koalas / Flying Foxes:

  • Curled up on the ground or down from tree.
  • Lethargic or unresponsive
  • Out during the day


  • Beaks open and panting.
  • Wings open
  • Looking flat
  • Non-responsive when approached

Kangaroos or Wallabies:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Licking paws
  • Appear lethargic

What To Do

Wildlife are wild animals who are not used to humans and therefore can be very dangerous and unpredictable, especially when scared or injured. With that in mind prioritize your own safety and proceed with caution if you feel comfortable in how to handle this situation.

If you discover heat stressed or injured wildlife and only when you are certain it is safe, place them in a cardboard box with adequate ventilation and place them in a cool, dark, quiet area.

Do not wrap them in wet towels.

Leave water available to them, but do not force them to drink. Force drinking can lead to aspiration and death.

Please do not release an animal back into the wild until a carer has given you instruction to do so.

If the animal is injured or in pain, do not wait to get them medical care. If you can take them to the nearest vet or phone Wildlife Victoria on 03 8400 7300

At the vets strongly insist on them receiving immediate emergency care, do not leave until the animal in your care receives it.
While vets have a responsibility to treat wildlife for free, often critical wildlife are made to wait until the end of the day, and in some cases the next day, until receiving adequate help.
It is your job to be their voice in these situations and advocate for their right to immediate medical attention.

Animals on Farms

Animals raised for food such as cows, sheep, pigs and chickens, or kept in paddocks like horses, suffer in the heat just as much as our wildlife does and are often just as neglected.

Please check the paddocks when you are driving and/or monitor the animals in paddocks close to you.

If you see an animal in distress, lying on their side, without water or food or displaying any of the symptoms previously listed please call Animal Liberation Victoria on 03 8060 1725 for guidance and advice.

Companion Animals

Wildlife are not the only ones who suffer during periods of intense heat. We also need to be cautious of the health of ours, and others, companion animals during summer. It is important to educate yourself and your friends and family on appropriate hot weather care.

Things you can do

Bring animals inside on hot days.

If you see someone walking their animal companion in extreme weather please politely and respectfully make them aware of the risks.

Place ice cubes in water bowls to keep them cooler longer.

Carry bottles of water and containers in your car in case you find animals in need.

Cool down overheated animals with cool damp towels and ice packs.

Don’t walk or let your dogs exercise in the heat of the day or in extreme weather. Place your hand on the pavement for five seconds – if it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for paws.

Make sure in the warmer weather you don’t allow your dog (or another animals) to walk in long grass. Snakes are common to find in the hot weather and often dwell in the long grass. Snake bites can cost upwards of $1500, if not fatal. Signs of snake bites include sudden collapse, crying out, vomiting, unable to walk.  Seek veterinary attention immediately.

 If you see an animal locked in a car on a hot day, call the police. If the animal is distressed then don’t hesitate to do the right thing. Dogs can die within minutes from heat stress if left in a car.

If you notice signs of heat stress in any animal, such as excessive panting, lethargy, dark red or pale gums, contact a vet immediately.

If your companion animal is in need of medical attention please do not hesitate in seeking help for him or her. We understand that vet bills can be expensive which is why we recommend you to visit the Lort Smith Animal Hospital if you are having financial difficulties.

Ask your friends to visit to help save lives in the heat.

Help all animals by taking the 30 Day Vegan Easy Challenge. Kick start a kinder, greener life at